The suspected killer of Gadi Vichman was charged with murder in the Be'er Sheva District Court on Thursday, defying previous speculation that he would only be charged with manslaughter.
The indictment acknowledges that Vichman head-butted Eden Ohayon prior to the stabbing, but goes on to say Ohayon then stabbed Vichman in the heart and twisted the knife.
Vichman, a Be'er Sheva resident, was killed two weeks ago when he went downstairs to confront a group of teens making noise outside his window late at night.
A police statement submitted to the Be'er Sheva Magistrate's Court four days ago declined to specify what Ohayon, 18, would be charged with, indicating that prosecutors were not yet sure they had enough evidence to charge him with murder. Ultimately, they decided they did.
According to the indictment, Ohayon was in the park that Friday night with three male friends and a girlfriend. He was carrying a kitchen knife, which the charge sheet said he usually did.
When the teens began making noise under Vichman's window, his partner, Michal Levy, went out to the balcony and shouted at them to be quiet. When the noise continued, Vichman went out to the balcony and repeated the demand. In response, the indictment said, "the defendant cursed the deceased and called him a 'son of a whore.'"
Levy then called the police, who promised to send a patrol car, but never did. The noise continued, and at 2:15 A.M., Vichman went downstairs and into the park to confront the teens. Ohayon came forward to meet him, and Vichman head-butted him in the face, causing his lip to bleed. Ohayon staggered back, but the indictment disputes his claim that he fell, instead asserting that he remained upright. He then pulled out his knife, stabbed Vichman on the left side of his chest and pulled the knife sideways from left to right.
The fact that he stabbed Vichman directly in the heart, then twisted the knife rather than showing regret, was the main reason the prosecution decided to charge him with murder, prosecutor Tal Adir-Cohen said. Even granting that Vichman started the fight, stabbing someone in the heart is not a proportionate response.
The fact that Ohayon routinely carried a knife also contributed to the decision, as did the apparent brief interval between his being head-butted and carrying out the killing.
After the stabbing, the indictment said, Ohayon removed the knife and fled with his friends, leaving Vichman lying there bleeding. As he fled, Ohayon threw the knife into a trash can.
He then ordered his girlfriend to lie if she was questioned, and to say he was at her house all night, the indictment said. Ohayon also threatened to "destroy her" if she let the truth out.
Ohayon's lawyer, Itai Yitzhak, said yesterday that the murder charge is ridiculous, given that "according to the indictment, the deceased is the one who assaulted the defendant first."
But Michal Levy said she was "truly happy" about the decision, "not because of vengeance, but because I lost the thing most precious to me and I saw it with my own eyes. I only wanted justice. Justice. He stabbed and murdered him in cold blood before my eyes and those of my daughter. Next time, someone will think twice about whether to stab someone and whether to walk around with a knife."
Adir-Cohen also cited this rationale in explaining the decision to file murder charges. "The knife has become an easy solution, and we in the prosecution are fighting this phenomenon," she said. "This case is one more incident in a long chain of serious acts of violence in which the knife has become the easy solution to every dispute."
Nevertheless, lawyers uninvolved in the case said the prosecution might have trouble getting a murder conviction, given the preceding fight. For a murder conviction, "you need an element of preparation," said Avi Himi, who chairs the Israel Bar Association's criminal law forum. "There are many verdicts stating that a violent act before the forbidden act sometimes constitutes provocation."
Furthermore, he said, it hasn't yet been proven that Ohayon was actually aiming for the heart.
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